NIST plans to continue blockchain payments tracking project with Treasury, Defense Departments

A contract notice dated March 4 indicates that work continues on a multi-departmental research project within the U.S. government focused on using blockchain tech to track grant payments.

The project has been ongoing since the start of 2020, as The Block reported at the time, involving the National Institute of Standards and Technology (an agency within the Department of Commerce), the  Department of the Treasury and the Defense Information Systems Agency, which is part of the Department of Defense.

The proof-of-concept involves the use of blockchain-based data or tokens to represent letters of credit. The hope is that the project might one day help make the existing system, described as cumbersome by federal officials, more transparent and efficient.

Per the March 4 contract notice, NIST wants to employ a Maryland-based firm called Prometheus Computing, LLC to assist in the project. 

As the notice describes:

"The government-wide blockchain application research effort has involved internal exploration and testing of Department of Treasury systems, including cryptographic function issue identification, and collaborative interagency relationships requiring mutual trust. It is important for information technology security purposes that this work be limited to as few researchers as possible. Inability to continue the ATO process for the blockchain development research through to completion with the original contractor would jeopardize security as well as the trust and confidence of collaborating agencies in NIST."

The financial details of a contract are not available at press time, but it would last for six months with a six-month optional extension after that time.